So, as I explained earlier the methods chosen for this study were, a literature review; two semi-structured interviews and my personal reflective journal. Moving on now from the literature review that I briefly outlined the semi-structured interviews provided fruitful data. They demonstrated that both techniques influence the learning-disabled child in many ways.
The family and sense of community which has a big impact is made on the child’s relationships through the social nature of TT. Also the structure of the programme promotes emotional well-being through massage and exercise. From this same interview in relation to the TT it was highlighted that it is through positive praise and positive focus on the childs abilities, rather than any challenging behaviours that makes it so good. In addition the child looks forward to sharing and performing; their communication improves through listening to the verbal and non-verbal as well as through signing and the development happens through fun and play.
When I interviewed the DMP therapist I discovered that Play through the use of a sand tray is a very successful intervention sometimes used. That the child’s social development does happen and grows from the therapeutic relationship, which is paramount. Also, sign language is employed and symbol cards used in communication; dancing with others encourages socio-emotional wellbeing and in respect to autism, it is about connecting with them in their movement pattern, that is knowing where the movement is and mirroring proficiently with different qualities. For a DMP therapist the body is the main tool of communication and through addressing movement first, the emotions reorganise themselves.
With respect to my journaling in remembering a dance we did in September in University, we were asked after a heavy day of planning our projects to think about our research idea and to dance it. I danced and felt stronger than ever I wrote:
“I am moving indirect, strong, flowing, earth & air and fire in my soul. Moving today was so liberating in so many ways. Out of the shy, hiding away and into the new. My research project is going to happen.”
To me this is a confirmation of embodied; creative and therapeutic movement that is powerful. I danced the changes I wanted to happen and then, they occurred in all the other areas necessary.
I also made comments:
“My body is my primary tool, it informs my practice, and it is everything. Body language and movement is everything. So when a lady moves her hands in her dance in a new way, we take it as a new vocabulary.”
Interestingly, I have always wondered what comes first the movement or the emotion and through moments in the interviews I had re-affirmed what I have experienced myself through dancing. She said that:
“If he is throwing the ball he falls over, and what I am trying to do now is help him to control that. So, that he might have control over his emotions, so focusing on his body, rather than the emotional side.”
On reflecting on this particular interview, I felt strengthened by her perspective and at the same time with a sense of deeper strength in my ability as a DMP to reach these children:
“I felt proud to be a Dance Movement Psychotherapist today and felt like I have so much work to do. What’s more, I felt like I have something that no other DMP therapist has and that is my life and dance experience. I learnt so much and it informs me all the time”.
In conclusion referring to the main themes of this study, the socio-emotional theme recognises body movement as a main tool of communication. Moreover, it is the therapists own bodily sensations that can provide an empathic connection through an embodied awareness that for the DMP therapist this is the therapeutic relationship, it is key, without which change cannot happen.
Sign language is used with these children because they are non-verbal. However, in light of the interviews I feel this is no substitute for a communication that can happen through moving with another, which could be more of a communion. You have the opportunity to enter into a relationship, a unity of being together where you are yourself through the other. You are not the subject looking at an object, denoting a quantitative stance.
In relation to my studies question it was revealed that the TT programme for the learning-disabled child is built on a programme of movement play and touch where meaningful moments of well-being are captured through positive praise. It works on a social therapeutic level. At the same time I unearthed that DMP is built on the psychological relationship which is successful in the development of emotional well-being for the learning-disabled child from the pre-verbal level of communication. Also, that this meaningful relationship happens through dancing, moving and playing together.
Finally, the study identified the value of DMP for children who are learning-disabled being the therapeutic relationship that is deeply rooted in an emotional connection through the body, the nature of which is unity, belonginess and communion.
The value of the TT for these children comes through the programme which captures and celebrates through positive affirmations, their achievements.
Due to my unique position of working within the TT and also being a qualified DMP therapist I am imagining a longer term study where practice could be evaluated. There are many crossovers between the two approaches to working with the learning disabled child, however, it is clear to me that in respect of TT one adheres to a specific programme whereas through DMP one pursues emotional connection through the body.